Sunday, August 4, 2019

Should you get a Wyze cam?

I'm seeing that question a fair bit these days. The answer is of course it all depends on what you want to do with a cam. For instance 6 of the 51 cams I currently have online are Wyze. And I have a 7th I'm planning on replacing an old 720p cam at the gate watching the mailbox with. But you need to think about what you plan to use it for.  They are great for places you want to setup something quickly to monitor something. Or in a place like out at the gate where it might be easily stolen so you want something with audio but cheap. For example only 2 of the 7 will be mounted in a permanent way. Compared to others here are the pros and cons I've see running them 24/7 in RTSP mode.

Wyze Pros:


  • Cheap (~$30 with shipping) though for the "3 times the price" I often see quoted you can get some really killer cameras. I just picked up 2 Amcrest IP4M-1026EWs for $64 each for example. For ~4X the price you can get 5 MP with zoom and auto focus or even 4K for example.
  • Can record local and to free cloud (and to NVR with hacks or one off supported firmware)
  • Easy to setup. I have 3 in the barn just stuck on walls by the magnetic base.
  • Wide 110° view. Good for getting a good bit of the room though not as good for distance without a lot more pixels.
  • They are adding person recognition to cut down on "bad" notifications. I have not had a change to try this personally though so not sure how well it is going to work given the limitations of the camera hardware and bandwidth if attempting a cloud solution. Update 8/10: Went to add a Wyze V2 out by the gate now that I have power and found they updated the RTSP firmware so though it might now do person notifications. It has disappointing video compared to the 720p Foscam I hoped to replace. And the sensors seem iffy but I'll leave it a bit to see how well the person notifications work.  Update 8/28: see Wyze RTSP updates.

Cons:


  • Only WiFi and the WiFi is weak. Expect a lot of drop outs if you plan to stream to a NVR. I suggest putting any WiFi cam on a smart plug so you can restart it remotely if not automatically.
  • Just 1080p which is the bare minimum these days given how cheap cameras have become. Especially with a 110° view. Remember one of the main factors in recognition is pixels per inch at the target distance. Take a look at Doing the math on pixels per inch at a distance for your cam
  • USB powered which generally means power nearby.Though some have reported being able to use POE to USB adapters. At that point though you are talking similar price of cams with POE built in.
  • Indoor cam by design. While there are cases that are supposed to shield it from weather again that negates most cost savings. Also this does not change the in focus range of the camera which is setup for medium size rooms. Having the target in the focus range of the camera is the other main factor in being able to recognize the target. Though focus range can also be an issue with many cameras since most these days are not just fixed focus but glued in place to prevent altering so it is important to match the camera to the target. 

Note for non RTSP use:

It only triggers once in 5 minutes and only uploads the first 12 seconds of that. Does record local 24/7 though and you should absolutely do that. While the cloud recording is a nice backup you really should not count on it catching anything, especially outdoors, since the odds the movement the first triggers it will get the best 12 seconds of video for you are about the same as hitting green light in city traffic when you are in a hurry.

Also for those thinking of using outdoors.

Think about what you expect to see with this cam. As I said above this camera has a wide view for such little resolution. Compare the view of this old Foscam 720p cam

Here is the same shot from a Wyze cam V2 located next to the Foscam
Note the motion pixilation in the shadows

And a similar shot from a 5MP Reolink one of those 3 times the price cams mentioned above.

More info:

To see more of what I've done with Wyze cams see my other posts here and samples I've posted on YouTube.

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